In-depth reviews

Renault Clio review - Engines, performance and drive

The Renault Clio is good fun to drive and rides well, but some engines aren’t especially strong

The Clio has garnered a reputation for driving thrills over the years that Renault has been keen to uphold; it follows that the current model should offer a good driving experience, hitting the supermini benchmarks for ride quality, handling and performance.

On the road, the Clio feels like a quality product. It seems planted on the move, with positive steering and a pointy front end that turns eagerly into corners. The suspension is well-judged, offering great pliancy over bumps big and small but sacrifices a little comfort in the name of body control. It runs the Ford Fiesta close in this department but ultimately isn’t quite as much fun.

The five-speed manual gearbox isn’t the best in its class; the high-mounted gear lever works well ergonomically but doesn’t have the most engaging gear change action. Changing gear is a more pleasurable experience in a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but there’s nothing especially terrible about the Clio’s ‘box.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The entry-level Clio engine is pretty basic – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 65bhp and 95Nm of torque, mated to a five-speed gearbox. It's probably best left for low-mileage, urban use; outright performance is best described as sluggish (0-62 mph takes 17.1 seconds) and it won’t prove as flexible as its turbocharged counterpart in everyday driving.

Our pick of the range – the TCe 90 – adds a turbocharger to the above, resulting in 90bhp, 160Nm of torque and a much more acceptable 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds. It’s not the best small petrol engine in the Clio’s class – the 1.0-litre EcoBoost in the Fiesta feels stronger – but it’s a serviceable choice that blends zippy performance with decent running costs and low emissions. It comes with a six-speed manual as standard but can also be combined with a CVT auto.

Renault has also introduced hybrid power into the Clio range. The E-TECH Hybrid 140 uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, producing 138bhp. 0-62mph takes 9.9 seconds, with a 112mph maximum.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SCe 75 Play 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,420

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 TCe 100 RS Line Bose Edition 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,420

Fastest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe 130 RS Line 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £20,480

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